New York Shitty Day Starter: 239 Banker Street Craigslist Advertisement Du Jour

September 5, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Now they’re calling it the Rustic House. Nice.

 

New York Shitty Day Starter: The Latest Craigslist Advertisement for 239 Banker Street

September 1, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

AKA: GREAT LOFT CON

It would appear more “community organizing/displacement prevention” might be needed…

The Word On The Street, Part II: Silence Speaks Volumes

Unless you have been on vacation in Timbuktu, fellow north Brooklynites, you are undoubtedly aware of the recent allegations of sexual harassment as practiced by the fellow at left: the Honorable Assemblyman Vito Lopez. I for one found the whole affair so repulsive I saw fit to mention it on this site.

Mr. “Gropez” (as I have taken to calling him) has received a great deal of media attention as a result. I do not see this changing in the foreseeable future. The same goes for commentary* and questions tendered by my fellow citizens— and I can assure you there are many. But as of late the prevailing sentiment seems to be as follows:

Why haven’t our elected officials/public servants spoken up about (or at least acknowledged) this turn of events?

I for one think this is an excellent question.

Let’s take Christopher Olechowski, for example. As you can see from the above piece of campaign literature our current chair of Community Board 1 purports to be the voice of our community. I find this fascinating given he continues to be curiously quiet. To my knowledge Mr. Olechowski has yet to respond to inquiries regarding his “leadership” role in the fight against the TGE plant or requests that he participate in a debate with our current 50th Assembly District Leader, Lincoln Restler.

Perhaps silence is the voice of our community? The lack of any acknowledgement— much less a response— from fellow Assemblyman Joseph Lentol regarding Mr. “Gropez’s” alleged activities would certainly indicate this. But I digress.

This morning I:

  • a resident of Community Board 1
  • a constituent of the 50th Assembly District and
  • a very pissed off  registered voter with a vagina (and free time)

mulled the matter over. Finally I decided:

Fuck it. If they want to act like there’s not a problem, I will remind them there is one. On their proverbial doorstep.

So I dug into my war chest of Crayola sidewalk crayons (mere sidewalk chalk would not suffice), tossed on some flip-flops and took a walk.

A very long walk.

Here’s the deal, folks…

These public servants work for us, not the other way around. They are accountable to us, their constituents. Our votes can and have placed these individuals in office— and our votes can remove them. How much time and/or effort would have been required of Mr. Olechowski, Mr. Lentol or, dare I say, our City Councilman** to simply state (or have a staff member “tweet”) the following:

In light of recent allegations against Assemblyman Vito Lopez, I (insert name here) want to make it clear I do not condone sexual harassment. I want to assure you, my constituents/neighbors, I will be watching this matter very carefully.

My educated guess would be “very little”— and yet this has yet to happen. Think about this when you cast your votes in upcoming elections, north Brooklynites.

I know I will.

UPDATE, August 30, 2012: I have received both an email and telephone call from Mr. Lentol! You can read the first by clicking here.

*Including my personal favorite. A piquant observation which comes from a lady named Sarah:

Hey, Vito, don’t let the door hit you in the DICK on the way out.

**Stephen Levin, former Chief of Staff for Mr. Gropez Lopez.

 

From The New York Shitty Inbox: An Excellent Question

August 26, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

A person we’ll call “G” writes today, August 26, 2012:

Miss Heather,

I’ve been apartment hunting in Williamsburg/Greenpoint for the last month and came across 239 Banker the other day. After meeting some spacecase “agent” and getting a tour of the building, I kept it on the list of potential rentals. Today I came across your blog and all this shitty info on the building/landlord/owners. How are they even allowed to be showing the place and renting it out? A couple happened to be getting a tour with me and my roommate as well and after, they put a deposit down on a 3 bedroom. Where can I get more info on this shady business? Thanks for the help.
Cheers…

“G” exercised something called “due diligence”. Thus, I recommended to him/her that before signing the lease to any apartment, one should consult the Department of Buildings’s web site.

As you can clearly see, in the case of 239 Banker Street there are quite a few red flags. As for why this space is still being showed by real estate agents: well, we’ll just say that is a result of “community organizing”

New York Shitty Day Starter: And On It Goes

Looks like some more Loft Law “awareness”/“changing the script” needs to happen at 239 Banker Street.

Because the rest of us simply aren’t “getting it”.

P.S.: You didn’t really think I was going to quit showcasing the wretchedly comical farce that is this edifice? In any case “Joe” seems to specialize in room shares. For example:

  1. This
  2. And this.

But by far the following advertisement is my personal favorite.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say the towel holders are what made this apartment jump $300 in the above listing.

As you can see, they are quite nice. Nonetheless, Bushwick is just that: Bushwick.


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Quicklink: “Gropez” Needs To Go

August 25, 2012 ·
Filed under: Brooklyn 

A realize a great many folks who follow this site are not terribly interested in politics. Nonetheless (and for those of you who are not in the know), yesterday some rather serious (and downright disgusting) allegations were made against the 53rd district New York State Assemblyman, Vito Lopez. In fact, he was censured and stripped of his chairmanship of the Housing Committee as a result. The New York Times has a pretty good synopsis of what has come to pass. Follows is an excerpt:

…Mr. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, said that he had decided to censure Mr. Lopez after the Assembly’s ethics committee — made up of four Democrats and four Republicans — ruled unanimously that claims that Mr. Lopez had verbally and physically harassed the employees were credible. “There were multiple incidents of unwelcome physical conduct toward one complainant, wherein you put your hand on her leg, she removed your hand, and you then put your hand between her upper thighs, putting your hand as far up between her legs as you could go,” Mr. Silver wrote, describing the committee’s findings.

He also said, “There was pervasive unwelcome verbal conduct by you toward both complainants from early June 2012 until the time they made complaints of sexual harassment in mid-July 2012, including repeated comments about their physical appearance, their bodies, their attire, and their private relationships.”

He said that Mr. Lopez “required” one of the women to travel with him to Atlantic City last month, where he attempted to kiss her, and that “she struggled to fend you off before you stopped, and that on the drive back from Atlantic City you again put your hand between her legs.”…(This tome can be read in its entirety by clicking here.)

Here’s the deal folks: Regardless of one’s party affiliation/personal politics methinks we can all agree this kind of predatory behavior is unacceptable. The fact the person involved is (ostensibly) a public servant makes it all the more reprehensible. If you agree, gentle readers, please take a moment to sign this online petition demanding that Mr. Lopez resign as the Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman. Thanks!

Quicklink/Op Ed: Turdpedo Shuts Down McCarren Park Pool?

Yes folks, it would appear this is indeed the case. Or was an errant piece of feral furniture in need of a dip to beat the summer heat to blame? In this respect CBS’s account is rather ambiguous.

In all seriousness: why is this news? Sure, I’m always open to Caddyshack/Baby Ruth jokes (as the video opening this tome attests). But really?

We all know how the adage goes: shit happens.

And occasionally it happens in our public spaces. This is nothing new. I have seen all manner and variety of effluvia in our subways, streets, stoops, etc., over the years. However, any and all incidences involving our newly re-opened pool seem to merit media scrutiny. Why is this so? I can assure you, gentle readers, there are much more pressing matters here. I do my best to cover some of them on this site.

Nonetheless since this site is— albeit in petite form, media— I feel compelled to direct some scrutiny of my own to the matter of our pool. Without further ado, here it is.

Last Thursday when I walked by there were to my recollection no less than two squad cars, a “meter maid” vehicle; a van commandeered from the 83rd Precinct (which I can assure you has problems of its own*), and a North Brooklyn Task Force vehicle. Given there were no crowds to control, simply a family of four peaceably entering this facility and an entrepreneur who had set up a table selling locks for $5.00 and (amusingly enough) diapers I have to wonder if this presence was a mite bit excessive.

But then again, our Finest follow orders. Their mandate is to protect and serve. My question is exactly who they are protecting and serving?

No one seems to be the least bit outraged that a “secret” meeting was organized to discuss the matter of our pool. One in which our City Councilman, Assemblyman Joe Lentol, the head of the 94th Precinct, and Christine Quinn were involved (among others). You should be. Among the manifold number of things I learned were:

  • Mayoral candidate Ms. Quinn seems to have organized this meeting. The sign-in sheets had her name on them. She does not reside in this community. This raises an eyebrow.
  • D.I. Hurson noted that all of the individuals apprehended had extensive criminal histories. He told me personally that one of the men involved in the “tear gas” incident (in which he himself was shoved) had been arrested— but not prosecuted— for a shooting at the Cooper Park Houses. The reason he was not prosecuted was because the victim (or witness) would not cooperate (probably because he/she was scared out of his/her wits). Given the number of 94th Precinct Community Council Meetings I have attended I am hardly surprised by this. Representatives of the Cooper Park Houses attend and speak at them regularly. They do so because they are tired of the violence and want it to stop.
  • Parks Enforcement Officers (who should be the “first line” of defense, if you will) were not allowed to attend this meeting (but the Lifeguards’ Union apparently was). I find this quite troubling.
  • The matter of registration cards was posited by our City Councilman. Apparently this practice is employed at the pool on Metropolitan Avenue. While it might— might— deter “evil-doers” from patronizing the pool, it would probably also discourage otherwise law-abiding citizens as well. For example: those who are not fluent in English or are uncomfortable filling out such paperwork (because they are recent immigrants, be they legal or otherwise).

Let’s assume for a moment registration cards do deter “bad guys (and girls)” from using the pool. This will simply send them somewhere else. Preferably from hence they came. If some the really ugly commentary** I have seen on Facebook and elsewhere is any indication this what a great many of my neighbors want. Not me.

The conclusions I have drawn, albeit with what little information I do have, are as follows:

  1. The real issue with the pool is the fact that crime (and the criminals which engage in them) which have become commonplace elsewhere in our community have made themselves manifest in an affluent, “hip” area.
  2. The pool is simply a new location for an already extant problem. (Although Parks/OSA made a number of mistakes and for these they should be held accountable.) Had, for example, the fellow who was involved in the tear gas incident been actually tried for the shooting two years previously would that “fight” have transpired? I think this is worth considering. (As is this woman’s take on what happened, which differs greatly from all other accounts of what happened— but I digress.)
  3. Thus, it would only be logical (if not politically expedient) that attention be paid to law enforcement in general as opposed to a small army being posted at the pool. It clearly was not needed when I walked by.

Like I said: I have little information from which to work. Most of the people reading this tome are in the same proverbial boat. Hence why the matter of the pool should be explored in a public/town hall forum. One in which our elected officials, police department and community board members are present to ask and answer questions. And most importantly of all: listen to us, the public.

Some semblance of transparency and dialogue is going to do a hell of lot more for this community than yet another tome about turds. CBS and their ilk have no vested interest in what happens here. Their sole concern is clicks (READ: revenue). Shit sells. (I should know.)

*These stats are from 2010. Note the asterisk point about the 81st Precinct.

Here’s a comparison of the 83rd Precinct’s CompStat numbers to the 94th’s.

And for the simple sake of comparison here are the 90th’s (which, it should be noted was recently rated as #5 in the entire city regarding the use of “Stop and Frisk”).

**Which can be, at best, politely described as thinly veiled racism.

Quicklink: Registration Cards?

July 26, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11211, 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Officials from the City Council, the State Assembly, the NYPD, the Brooklyn DA’s office, and the lifeguards’ union joined community leaders at the McCarren Park Pool last night for an under the radar meeting concerning the violent incidents that have marred the $50 million facility’s grand reopening. A well-placed source tells A Walk in the Park that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Assemblyman Joe Lento(l), and Councilmember Steve Levin convened the meeting, during which a proposal was floated to require registration cards for all those who would use the pool… (You can view this article in its entirety by clicking here.)

I wouldn’t exactly call this meeting “under the radar”. I got a tip about it the evening of the 24th. After doing some asking around (and not getting any answers) I decided to email the 94th Precinct yesterday morning.

I never received an answer. Hey, I understand the police have a lot on their plate— but wouldn’t a little transparency on the behalf of our elected officials and public servants be nice? This is a public matter and such a forum should have been, well, public.

UPDATE, 7:17 p.m.: Apparently our Community Board 1 Public Safety Chair was present— among others. Mr. Burrows (chair of said committee) writes:

There was a meeting that started with Steve Levin and Joe Lentol chairing and then Chris Quinn arrived. The sign in sheets were from the Speakers office. The Community Board was represented by the Chair (Chris Olechowski who, it should be noted, is running against Lincoln Restler for 50th Assembly District Democratic Leader), the District Manager (Gerry Esposito) and the Chairs of the Parks (Phil Caponegro) and Public Safety Committees.

Apparently the 50th Assembly District Democratic Female leader, Linda Minucci, was present as well. Notably absent were representatives of OSA (Open Space Alliance), the pool administrator and our Parks Administrator, Stephanie Thayer. The latter was apparently fired from OSA last week. OSA, as well as the Parks Department, are in no hurry to announce this. Perhaps this is because the previous’s contract with the latter expires this fall? Hmm…

New York Shitty Day Ender: VOTE!

This rather substantial advertisement as spied by yours truly on the Southside is as good a reason as any to remind any/all registered Democrats in north Brooklyn and beyond to vote at tomorrow’s primary! Those of you who are not in the know can find your voting district by clicking here.

NOTE: This post is in no way intended to be an endorsement of Erik Dilan. Quite to the contrary: if I had the ability I’d most assuredly vote against him (READ: for Nydia Velazquez). Sadly some rather diabolical redistricting (at the behest of a certain individual) saw fit to remove me and a fair amount of north Brooklyn from her district. So it goes.

New York Shitty Day Ender: If At First You Do Not Succeed…

April 30, 2012 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Our City Councilman writes to yours truly on April 11, 2012 (regarding this post):

…The Loft Law was designed to protect residential tenants who, knowingly or unknowingly, moved into manufacturing or commercial spaces and it may grant rights for tenants to save and stabilize their housing and avoid the excessive costs associated with being vacated. With regard to 239 Banker Street, I cannot say whether they will be covered by the Loft Law. However, when the building was vacated in 2009, many tenants suddenly lost their living spaces as well as thousands of dollars in rent and security deposits. I do not want to see a repeat of that event. I will work to ensure that all building code issues at 239 Banker are addressed, but I hope to avoid seeing another vacate order if possible…

Cityslicker24 writes on April 8, 2012:

…Furthermore, an application for legalization under the NYC loft law is pending, and indeed the building has undergone modernization, including new windows, floors, and fire sprinklers installed throughout each unit. I was in the units two days ago and saw that there have been significant projects intended to make the building appropriate for dwelling use…

hav writes on March 29, 2012:

non-surprisingly someone decided to complain to the DOB which ordered the building to vacate yesterday. As of today there are some interesting developments but nothing solidified yet. It is however looking like the building has a strong possibility of getting covered by the NYC Loft Law which will protect tenants from being vacated…

Given that 239 Banker has— at long last— overcome their recent brush with vandalism, the above-listed comments; and Mr. Levin’s apparent confusion as to whether or not this rather notorious edifice qualifies for Loft Law protection, I decided to do a little research. First, I perused the Loft Law proper. Then I proceeded to parse through each and every post I have authored about 239 Banker Street. You see, unlike our City Councilman, I actually lived here when this shit show started.

My conclusion is as follows: I can assure cityslicker24, hav and Mr. Levin that 239 Banker Street is in no way, no HOW entitled to Loft Law protection. And the best reason of all can be found on the New York City Loft Board’s own web site:

In June of 2010, the State Legislature expanded the Loft Law to include tenants who lives in a commercial or manufacturing building where three or more families have lived independently from one another for 12 consecutive months from 1/1/08 through 12/21/09, in a building that lacks a residential certificate of occupancy.

So let’s review a (somewhat) concise timeline of 239 Banker Street with the previous data in mind, shall we?

1. For starters, the permit approving the conversion of 239 Banker Street into a “hotel” (as seen at left) was not granted until July 30, 2008. This expired on July 30, 2009 and was not renewed until December 11, 2009.

2. Advertisements shilling apartments at 239 Banker Street were noticed on Craigslist May 28, 2009 (as seen below). In fact, there was a website created for the sole purpose of marketing “The Sweater Factory Lofts”. Alas, this is long gone, but you can view screencaps by clicking here.

3. Individuals were spied moving into 239 Banker Street May 31, 2009 and June 2, 2009. Following me so far? Great!

4. A Stop Work Order was issued shortly thereafter. This was (naturally) disregarded. So complaints were filed July 31, 2009.

5. The Department of Buildings actually saw fit to cite 239 Banker Street for violating a Stop Work Order (at right, which you can view in larger format by clicking here). This came to pass September 8, 2009.

6. And last— but hardly least— the Department of Buildings issued a Vacate Order citing “conditions imminently perilous to life” on September 29, 2009. Among their dismal discoveries were disabled/concealed sprinkler heads and uncapped electrical wires.*

Follows is ABC’s footage of this death trap. Seeing is truly believing folks!

Post-script: as of December 28, 2010 this Vacate Order was still in place.

Let’s review:

  • The Loft Law requires that three or more families reside in a commercial or manufacturing building for twelve consecutive months between January 2008 and December 2009.
  • 239 Banker Street did not have tenants— much less three families living independently of each other— until at least May 31, 2009.
  • 239 Banker Street was vacated by the Department of Buildings September 24, 2009.
  • This makes five months total— not even close to what the law requires.

So why file such a spurious application in the first place? Well, as one commenter noted recently:

they can apply for loft law status, but they will have an almost impossible task of getting coverage. The problem is that once they apply and receive a docket number they are actually protected from any action from DOB, which actually sucks because there is a 2-3 year back up to hear the case with the loft board. So while they will almost certainly lose the hearing they will keep moving people into the space who will get evicted in 2 or 3 years at best…

Unless of course in the meantime someone changes the law**:

Assemblymember Vito Lopez told more than 200 tenants gathered at a meeting last night on his 2010 law protecting their right to live in former industrial spaces that he is their best ally — and suggested that Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez is the one they should throw out of office this year.

“[Councilmember Diana] Reyna and Velazquez wanted the area carved out of the law,” said Lopez, who also heads the Brooklyn Democratic Party, referring to the industrial zone bridging Williamsburg and Bushwick that lies within his district. “They really don’t like you. This was Velazquez’s way of saying you don’t matter.”

Velazquez faces a primary challenge this June from term-limited Councilmember Erik Dilan, a close ally of Lopez who sat at his side onstage at the event. Flanking Lopez on the other side was Williamsburg GREENPOINT Councilmember Stephen Levin, who formerly served as Lopez’ chief of staff…

*Which, it is interesting to note, netted them a paltry $25,000 fine. Not they they have bothered to pay it or the litany of other penalties they have accrued. They haven’t.

**You do not honestly believe Mr. Lopez and Mr. Levin are pushing for an expansion of the Loft Law out of the kindness of their own hearts, gentle readers? No sir. Rather, this is simply an expedient means to use voters so as to rezone by decree and reward landlords/political backers who have no regard for zoning laws— or their tenant’s safety. Landlords like Meserole Factory, LLC.

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